Covidum, Newly Discovered Flatworm named after COVID

Jay Kakade
Humbertium Covidum
Humbertium Covidum. (Pierre Gross)

Covid-19 pandemic is one of the most deadliest pandemics ever seen by humankind. Covid-19 (SARS-CoV-2), a member of coronavirus family has affected and changed the course of many lives. Researchers have discovered a new species of hammerhead flatworm Humbertium covidum.

As a large part of the study conducted by National Museum of Natural History, France was written in lockdown. Therefore The name Covidum is derived from COVID-19.

Hammerhead Flatworm are also called as genus Bipalium are the type of predatory flat worms with hammer like shaped Head. This are invasive species in United States and Europe.

Humbertium covidum is 3 centimetres long in length with body of metalic black colour with no strips (Rare feature of Flatworm). First Humbertium covidum was found in couple of gardens in France and Italy.

Researchers have detailed Humbertium covidum's genitals which is necessary to distinguish from other sub-species. As all flatworm species are hermaphrodite they can be either Sexual or Asexual.

Humbertium covidum is not the only hammerhead flatworm discovered. Researchers found more such species called Diversibipalium mayottensis. D. Mayottensis is also three centimetres long with blue green speckle on brown base.

Using next gen sequencing studies claims that this species are not native to France and Italy but may have travelled from abroad. H. covidum from somewhere in Asia, and D. mayottensis from Madagascar.

Diversibipalium mayottensis
Diversibipalium mayottensis. (Laurent Charles)

This are not the only species migrated to Europe. Other species like Obama nungara in Europe (originally from Argentina), Platydemus manokwari in the US (from New Guinea) and Bipalium kewense in France (from Southeast Asia) might have migrated into Europe.

Team studied the diet of H. Covidum using genetic sequencing. They found H. Covidum survived by eating Slugs and Snails. This diet of H. Covidum may harm ecosystem of the esteemed Area.

Apart from these gardens from France and Italy, There are limited cases of spotting this type of Flatworms. But this spotting have not helped team in their research.

Researchers were able to minutely study H. Covidum and were also able to collect enough specimen of species. But unfortunately, Team failed to collect desired data from D. Mayottensis as Specimens of D. Mayottensis were hard to collect.

Team believes D. Mayottensis belongs to complete new species of Hammerhead flatworm.


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